PRESS RELEASE: Federal Government Has Yet to Disburse Funds to UIOs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Meredith Raimondi, 202-417-7781, mraimondi@ncuih.org

UIOs have received no funding from COVID-19 emergency bill.

Washington, DC (March 17, 2020) – To date, urban Indian organizations (UIOs) across the country have yet to receive any federal funding from the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, despite having been specifically listed in the legislation. UIOs already have an immediate funding need for services and supplies to combat the pandemic, and as the urgency, infection rate, and death toll intensifies, UIOs will need more funding resources to protect and preserve human life.

“As Congress and the Administration is working hard to address COVID-19, we are gravely concerned about the timeline for funds and resources to Indian Country. We have seen urban areas be adversely impacted by this virus and our Urban Indian Organizations have yet to receive any funding from the Administration despite Congress including UIOs in the bill. Lives are at stake and time is of the essence for action as our programs are already tackling this crisis without the resources they need,” said Francys Crevier, Executive Director of NCUIH.

The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) partnered with the National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Finance Officers Association, and the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund in a letter to Congressional appropriators detailing the need for UIO COVID-19 emergency supplies and services funding to be set at a minimum of $58-$94 million. UIOs receive primary IHS funding from only one line item in the IHS budget, which provides a mere $57,684,000 for urban Indian health. 41 UIOs that operate 74 health facilities in 22 states are thus faced with significantly constrained budgets.

With over two-thirds of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population living in urban areas, UIOs fill a crucial gap in the health care system for AI/ANs that do not have access to more remote facilities run by the Indian Health Service (IHS). UIOs must receive this critical funding without delay so that they may continue to provide high quality care to their patients while also managing local outbreaks and minimizing risks to their communities. 

UIOs already have an immediate need for access to the emergency funding appropriated by Congress, as many are located in some of the hardest-hit areas of the United States.

On March 6, H.R.6074, the “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020” (Act) became law. The Act provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, and includes at least $950,000,000 for states, localities, tribes, tribal organizations, and UIOs. A further proviso provides that “not less than $40,000,000 of such funds shall be allocated to tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes” through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Grants or cooperative agreements with urban Indian health organizations will be to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, as well as to reimburse costs for these purposes incurred between January 20 and March 6, 2020.

NCUIH will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation, the ongoing health risks to AI/AN patients, and the urban Indian communities where they reside.

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Background

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The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) is the national non-profit organization devoted to the support and development of quality, accessible, and culturally-competent health and public health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in urban areas. NCUIH is the only national representative of the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) under the Indian Health Service (IHS) in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). NCUIH strives to improve the health of the over 70% of the AI/AN population that lives in urban areas, supported by quality, accessible health care centers.

By Meredith Raimondi, posted on Tuesday March 17, 2020
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